Friday, October 12, 2012

When Myth and History Merged into Mystery - Frost Giant - 2012

Frost Giant, of "the Hinterlands of Pennsylvania," are more than meets the eye. Their debut EP, When Myth and History Merged into Mystery, appears on its surface to be a slab of Viking-themed metal and, indeed, it delivers there at its core. And -core seems an apt suffix for whatever Frost Giant really is - an intriguing amalgam of Viking, folk, death and melodic elements - Vifolkore? Whatever you call it, When Myth and History Merged into Mystery delivers more than one would expect.

"My Life is Yours" opens the EP in a powerful, uptempo manner that falls right in line with any preconceived notions one may have about the band (or the man, rather, as it appears the EP is in truth a solo effort with all performances turned in from founder, Matti Frost). It's a sweeping, riff-fueled beast that sets the head banging and throws in an off-kilter folk-flavored harmonic chorus that, as with many of the Viking-Folk-Metal ilk, serves as the benchmark of the sound. "A Common Son," with its acapella refrain, starts out along the same path and then immediately veers into strange, beautiful territory. Breakneck percussion and riffs accelerate and then stop abruptly for some sublime, shimmering string work before barreling ahead with all elements intersecting for a melodic masterpiece closer to punk than anything Amon Amarth would dish up (frankly, it's much more compelling - immediately uncategorizable and instantly infectious).

"Heathen's Lament" stretches out on many of the same sounds of "A Common Son" and, while it successfully incorporates many of the same dynamics, it never quite reaches its predecessor's dramatic heights. "Not While I Draw Breath" ups the tempo and, though it maintains harmonic refrains, retreats even farther into the more traditional sounds of the Viking metal territory. While not a failure by any means, it begins to feel like filler. A cover of Adele's "Someone Like You" closes the EP. It's a gimmick, to be sure, but it's a well-crafted one, and it's a bold, ballsy balancing act for the band. A song such as this is bound to generate some buzz but also endangers Frost Giant to one-off novelty status. That said, the source material translates well though the end result is closer to Michale Graves-era Misfits than even any of the other material on When Myth and History Merged into Mystery.

All in all, a fantastic EP though one that might be improved as a leaner, meaner monster. Were I sequencing I'd carve "Someone Like You" out into free-download-only status to play like a toss-off (albeit excellent) novelty and I'd likely excise "Not While I Draw Breath" to leave a three-song calling card that makes a hell of a statement and leaves listeners wanting for more. When Myth and History Merged into Mystery meanders a bit but, largely, lives up to the band's name, delivering a massive, exciting sound.

Frost Giant's When Myth and History Merged into Mystery is available now from Blasphemour Records.

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